Building FaZe

On January 20, 2016, FaZe Clan acquired the G2 CS:GO roster for a reported amount of $700,000. The initial roster consisted of

  • Maikelele
  • rain
  • fox-
  • jkaem
  • aizy

This iteration of the team would kick off their life under the FaZe Clan banner at Dreamhack Leipzig, where they played in Group A against SK Gaming, Luminosity Gaming, and Natus Vincere. FaZe made their exit from that tournament in the group stages with a 1-2 record, their only victory being against Luminosity (16-9 on Inferno).

At that time, you would look at that FaZe roster and think that they may qualify for the knockout stages of a tournament, but realistically speaking they would not get very far, nor would they challenge for international titles. That iteration of the team lacked something that is necessary for professional Counter Strike.

They lacked leadership

That would change slightly on February 9, 2016, when RobbaN was announced as the new FaZe Clan coach. RobbaN was widely regarded as one of the best in Counter Strike, known for his runs in teams such as NIP and SK Gaming. The addition of RobbaN brought an injection of experience to the FaZe side and in a way an injection of leadership, albeit outside of the server.

The team had one month to prepare for their next event, IEM Katowice. This would be their first event under RobbaN.

They kickstarted their campaign in Katowice with a 16-5 win on Cache over EFrag. Their following match up, against Tempo Storm, would prove to be a struggle for FaZe. The map was taken into overtime despite FaZe Clan having a 5-10 deficit at the end of the first half. Thankfully, the duo of jkaem and rain were able to pull FaZe Clan through for a 19-16 win over Tempo Storm on Dust II.

They then went up against Team EnVyUs, and this would be the beginning of the end for the FaZe campaign, where they lost 12-16 to the French side on Train. The following match was against Astralis on Inferno, where they would record another loss, this time on a much more one-sided scale, losing out 16-5. The final match of the group stage was against Virtus.Pro, and it was here that they would lose 13-16 on Mirage, despite a close 8-7 half.

The MLG Columbus Major

would be the first major that the FaZe Clan roster would attend, and would also be the marker for a chain of changes for the FaZe side to become what it is today. The mixed European side would come up against Team Liquid on Cache in their opening group stage match. The map did not start well for FaZe, heading into the second half with a 3-12 scoreline. They would manage to mount a comeback of some sorts, but would still fall short, with the match ending 11-16.

The Europeans would then come up against Splyce, where they were able to get a 16-3 win on Inferno.

FaZe then would square off against world beaters Fnatic in the losers finals, where they lost out 16:10 on Mirage and 16:6 on Cobblestone.

On April 3, after FaZe’s run at the MLG Columbus Major, Maikelele announced that he would be stepping down from the active roster.

As mentioned previously, this would seemingly trigger a chain of change for FaZe Clan.

One Man’s Problem Is Another Man’s Step Towards A Solution

On the 10th of April, FaZe Clan announced the acquisition of kioshima from Team EnVyUs. At the same time, it was revealed that Maikelele was still under contract with FaZe Clan.

The first tournament for the new line up, which is at this point in time

  • kioshima
  • rain
  • jkaem
  • aizy
  • fox
  • RobbaN (c)

was Dreamhack Masters Malmo. They would start in Group D alongside Virtus.Pro, Tempo Storm, and Team EnVyUs. FaZe would play their opening match up against Virtus.Pro FaZe would lose this match up 16-8 on Train and would go on to play Team EnVyUs, who have added DEVIL, as kioshima’s replacement. The match, which was played out on Cache, was close for the first half. FaZe managed to edge out the French side 9-6. FaZe started to struggle in the second half of the match, and would end up losing 16-12 to Team EnVyUs.

This would earn them another group stage exit.

The addition of kioshima was definitely a step in the right direction. FaZe were able to add a player that would, over time, develop an element of consistency within his personal performances and would become a solid asset to the FaZe roster. However, there would be more changes to follow.

The Finnish Sniper

On August 16, 2016, FaZe Clan announced that allu would be joining from ENCE, and would replace fox, who would remain under contract.

An upgrade, without a doubt. FaZe Clan now became a roster that looked like this:

  • allu
  • kioshima
  • jkaem
  • aizy
  • rain
  • RobbaN (c)

A better line up than the initial G2 roster that FaZe bought at the beginning of 2016. This lineup is filled with firepower from top to bottom. There is a problem that remained consistent throughout the iterations of this lineup, and that there is no true leadership.

Yes, RobbaN is a coach, but due to the implementation of the coaching rules, RobbaN’s input is limited, and thus a team full of marksmen who lack a strong leader may go haywire once inside the server. None of these players are actual in game leaders. Yes, they are talented but none of them possess the traits of a leader who can keep a team in line, execute set pieces and lead them to victory.

For a while, FaZe looked to be improving, considering where they were at in the beginning stages of the year. However, there were no impressive finishes. At the StarSeries LAN they were out in groups, and the same thing happened in Dreamhack Bucharest.

The roster was finally coming together, albeit rather slowly. The building phase was a time consuming one, but one that would soon pay off for the European side.

The addition of kioshima & allu were two very good moves for the European side. Both are very, very solid players, but as said previously, the team littered with firepower would continue to underperform due to a lack of leadership. This would change in October.

The One Who Fell From The Stars

On October 19, 2016, 9 days before the Pro League Finals, FaZe Clan made the decision to bench kioshima and bring in karrigan, who was benched by Astralis.

FaZe Clan seemingly had the final piece of the puzzle. A decent in-game leader who led Astralis (formerly TSM) to many decent finishes under the TSM brand.

After an up and down year with their new organization, Astralis, karrigan was benched and was picked up by FaZe.

FaZe Clan had made an early exit in the group stage of the Pro League finals with a 2-3 record.

However, karrigan’s arrival would prove to be a turning point for FaZe Clan and would be the first time since their inception under the new organization that they would reach the playoffs of an international tournament.

A slight oversight by the team was made when they replaced karrigan for kioshima but was remedied just 4 days before the iBUYPOWER Masters where it was revealed that jkaem would be benched for a returning kioshima.

The Start Of Something New

After these changes, the FaZe roster looked like this:

  • karrigan
  • rain
  • aizy
  • allu
  • kioshima
  • RobbaN (c)

Their next international tournament would be the iBUYPOWER Masters, where they were able to place in the top four of that tournament. Following that, they would attend IEM Oakland. It was here that FaZe Clan 5-0’d their group, topping it and being the only team to go through the group stages undefeated. This granted them a seat at the semifinals of the tournament, where they would lose to eventual winners NIP 2-1 in a best of three.

The next tournament for the FaZe line up was ELEAGUE Season 2. After finishing second in their group with a 2-1 record, they would then go on to beat Virtus.Pro 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the tournament (16-4 L on Nuke, 10-16 W on Overpass, 14-16 W on Cache).

They would then meet organizational rivals OpTic Gaming in the semifinals. In a similar story to that of IEM Oakland, they lost out in the semifinals to the eventual winners of the tournament, although this time it was a 2-0 scoreline.

FaZe Clan did bomb out in the group stages of ECS Season 2, after being eliminated by OpTic once again. However, after a poor first 10 months, after many roster changes, FaZe Clan were finally able to string together some decent performances.

The story is not over yet.

2017

The start of 2017 could have been considered a rough start for FaZe Clan. Although they were able to secure their legends spot at the ELEAGUE Major for the PGL Major, they lost out to SK Gaming in the quarterfinals, a side that had fox as a stand in. Nevertheless, securing the legends spot is always handy.

At the end of the major, aizy left for North to replace a recently removed RUBINO. This move happened on the 8th of February. On the 9th of February, it was announced that NiKo would be joining FaZe Clan from mousesports after the Dreamhack event in Las Vegas.

February was an interesting month for FaZe Clan. They played with jkaem as a stand in for Dreamhack Vegas and subsequently crashed out of the group stages.

Now, with the addition of NiKo for aizy, the roster looks like this:

  • karrigan
  • NiKo
  • allu
  • kioshima
  • rain
  • RobbaN (c)

A star-studded line up to say the least.

NiKo being removed from mousesports was something that needed to happen, and something that was inevitable, but when it was going to happen and with who was the question. NiKo was a great player stuck in mediocrity. The team around NiKo were not able to perform around their star player, and as a result, mouseports were often stuck in mediocrity, or below mediocrity, with NiKo being the standout performer, no matter where they played.

Now that NiKo was acquired by FaZe, it gave NiKo a chance to achieve greatness with a much better team around him. The arrival of NiKo would pay off almost immediately.

A 2nd place at IEM Katowice, a 1st place at StarLadder and a 2nd place at IEM Sydney. FaZe Clan went from a team that would not be able to challenge for anything in early 2016, to a team that had a chance of challenging for something in mid-2016, to a team that can challenge by the end of 2016.

The acquisition of NiKo made than “can challenge” a “will challenge”, and it showed almost immediately.

Dreamhack Vegas finished on the 19th of February. IEM Katowice started on the 1st of March. FaZe Clan had such a short amount of time to practice with NiKo but achieved a 2nd place almost instantaneously. After a bit of time, they were able to win an international event with NiKo and then place second at IEM Sydney.

FaZe were a team that was doing wonderfully considering how they started, however, with the acquisition of NiKo, who is nothing short of a superstar, the team was elevated to the next level, and would go on to be a top 3 team in the world.

The Story

The story line itself is quite long, but we’ll summarize it anyway.

The FaZe roster has had its fair share of players that have been dropped from teams previously. In the initial iteration, it was Maikelele, who has been on his fair share of teams.

After that, there were two more misfits to join FaZe named karrigan and kioshima. Both of these players were deemed to be the problem by their former sides, Team EnVyUs & Astralis respectively. Team EnVyUs arguably went downhill ever since kioshima’s departure and Astralis soared after karrigan left. It is fascinating that two players that were deemed to be the problem by both of their former teams have come together to a new team and have been a crucial part in forming the solution to launch FaZe into greatness.

The only player that has been on the FaZe roster since inception is rain.

If we really wanted to, we could even look at allu’s career prior to ENCE, during his time at NIP. Despite performing well under the NIP banner he did not fit in and subsequently returned to ENCE before being picked up by FaZe. If we really wanted to, we could use ENCE as an example too, allu was a player that was a tier above the rest of his teammates, and him playing with ENCE was not going to last very long.

NiKo was too good for mousesports and was bound to be plucked by a bigger, better team.

The Frenchman that was deemed the problem, and cut by a roster that was on a decline, the Danish in game leader that fell from the stars, the Finnish sniper who finally found a home, the fish that was too big for his pond & the one that’s been there forever.

In some way, shape or form, these players did not fit in with their rosters, whether it was in a positive or negative way. The band of misfits (and rain) came together, albeit one by one, and slowly, but surely, strengthened and improved the FaZe roster, and got them to the heights that they would never have been able to achieve with the older iteration of the roster. They are finally where they needed to be at – mounting challenges for international titles and posing a considerable threat to the rest of the teams in the world.

They bolstered their firepower with players better than the ones they replaced & finally fixed the issue of the leadership that they lacked in the server.

It’s safe to say that the building FaZe is over.

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